When called upon, Camp Pendleton Fire Department’s Swift-Water Rescue Team is ready to respond at a moments notice to keep Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton safe.
While typical emergency services personnel are limited to rescue operations within 10 feet from the shoreline, members of the team are trained and equipped to enter a flood or swift-water scenario.
“Our team here completes a swift-water advanced technician course,” said Lt. Matthew McLeod, a rescue officer with the Camp Pendleton Fire Department. “We usually do annual refresher training in the summer.”
The firefighters first have to be a certified swift-water and flood rescue technician, which teaches them the fundamentals of survival in moving water. The firefighters on Camp Pendleton don’t stop there, they then complete a swift-water rescue technician advanced water course. This course teaches them to analyze and conduct advanced rescue situations both in and over water, as well as provide search management in a swift-water or flood environment.
“The amount of calls we get depends on the rainfall and the flood situation of that year. It varies.” Lt. Matthew McLeod, a rescue officer with the Camp Pendleton Fire Department
On top of their certifications, the team also conducts various training exercises throughout the year to sharpen their skills. The training normally consists of terminology, hydraulics and rope rescues. They also practice combative and non-combative victims and unresponsive victim rescues. Members of the fire department’s engine companies are also trained in rope rescues.
In the past three years they have responded to 14 calls. A majority of the calls the team gets are to respond to emergency situations in the communities outside of base, in North County.
Fortunately, the number of calls on base have been few and far between in recent years, but when a situation does arise the team is ready to respond.